Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rio Nido Roadhouse requests letters of support -- please help!

I received the following letter (shown below) from Brad Metzger, owner of the Rio Nido Roadhouse. He NEEDS LETTERS OF SUPPORT from all of us who love the place. In addition to providing a live music venue, swimming pool, delicious food, & a fun place to hang out, the Rio Nido Roadhouse also supports our community in myriad ways. They've hosted fundraisers for our local schools, a community Easter Egg Hunt, neighborhood meetings, children's swimming lessons with instructors from the Santa Rosa YMCA, morning aquatic aerobics classes, & more.

PLEASE help them out by sending letters of support to 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo ( & also send a copy (cc it) to Brad ( so he can feel the love. If you're up for sending snail mail, mail it to: Rio Nido Roadhouse, Letter of Support, PO BOX 425, Guerneville, CA 95446.
Dear friends of the Rio Nido Roadhouse and Pool:

Recently, an unidentified
person has started a campaign to stop live music at the Roadhouse. This person complained to the county, and in return, the County of Sonoma sent me two notices. The first demands that the outdoor stage be permitted or removed in thirty days. The stage was built in the late 1980's, without a recorded permit. Due to ADA and flood zone building requirements, a permit will not be issued as it is, and a permit will not be issued for a new one.

The second notice demands a cease and desist on our live music activities. That's a real shame considering the history of music in Rio nido. I have retained the services of a professional to help me navigate the county, and I have some legal help as well. I feel the the issues are not insurmountable.

This is where you come in. Very soon, I will find myself down at the county offices, in front of the planning commission and our supervisor Efren Carrillo, pleading my case for not tearing down the stage and for the continuance of music.

I would like to ask that you take ten minutes to write a letter to Supervisor Carriillo on behalf of the Rio Nido Roadhouse. Your letter should include any thoughts, feelings, and stories that involve you and your family's experiences at the Roadhouse and its previous incarnation, Rio Nido Bar & Pool. If you enjoy our music events or joined us for our Easter Egg hunt, Lu'au's, Family Hoe-down BBQ, Avon Walk for Life Breast Cancer Benefit, Chili Cook-off for Paco's glaucoma surgery, Spaghetti and Chili Cook-offs for the Monte Rio and Guerneville After School Programs, Family Marshmallow Roasts, memorial service for "PG+E Mike", weddings, for Dave and Debbie or Mark and Nancy, please make reference to those events. Any copies of photos that you could include would certainly go a long way to drive your points home.

I request your help as soon as possible due to the hard, simple fact that the Roadhouse and swimming pool business model are not sustainable without live music several nights a week,all year long. Remember, your families have known and loved this place for quite some time.

Please Mail your letters to:

Rio Nido Roadhouse, PO BOX 425, Guerneville, CA 95446

or Email Supervisor Carrillo directly at: On emailed correspondence to Supervisor Carrillo, please copy me at

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have at 707.869.0821.

On behalf of myself and the entire Roadhouse staff, Thank you very much.

Brad Metzger

Thursday, February 11, 2010

River Rattina supports RRFPD's proposed fire tax, despite vigorous protests from beleaguered wallet

Braving the vigorous attacks of her shrieking, snarling, snapping, cavernous void of an empty wallet, Russian River Rattina publicly announces her support for the Russian River Fire Protection District's proposed annual $140 per parcel tax hike.

At a disturbingly violent press conference consisting of River Rattina and her enraged wallet, the online journalist declared, "I know times are tough for all of us economically -- OUCH! -- but it's the right thing to do -- DANG! There goes another FINGER for gawd's sake!"

River Rattina's support was cemented when RRFPD personnel broke down the door of her home to rescue her from the physical attacks inflicted by her angry wallet, & whisked her off to the hospital in their ancient, dilapidated ambulance -- which the County refuses to replace, despite repeated requests for funding, because ambulances do not meet Sonoma County's required zoning standards for affordable housing.

But seriously ... how do I explain my change of heart after opposing Measure G and perpetually fuming about how this is NOT a good time for tax increases? I've gone back and forth with RRFPD's supporters in person, on this blog, and on the West Sonoma County Bulletin Board (WACCOBB) -- plus I've read their statements in various local newspapers. Their intelligent, courteous, and well-thought out responses have convinced me we really do need this tax.

Of course, I still feel that California's tax system is unfairly regressive; that our 30% redevelopment set-asides are starving our special districts (schools, emergency services, law enforcement, etc.) of revenue while providing few economic and community benefits per tax dollar spent; and that RRFPD and others in need of money should seek it from people who actually HAVE money these days (i.e. banking executives, terrorists, and white collar criminals).

But, when push comes to shove, we cannot afford -- as a community -- to cut back any further on our emergency protection. I say "emergency protection" rather than "fire protection" because the folks at RRFPD help us with a lot of things besides firefighting. They provide our ambulances and paramedics when we call 911; help with logistics and evacuations during floods and other emergencies; and they do proactive stuff like memorable and well-received safety presentations for schools and various other organizations. The elementary school kids absolutely adore them.

It isn't Fire Chief Sean Grinnell's fault that our crappy economy, Proposition 13, Russian River Redevelopment's 30% set-asides from our Special Districts, and the gaping maw of financial mismanagement from the County, State, Feds, and evil banking firms have somehow managed to suck away all of our financial wherewithal to an undisclosed location. The ill-fated Measure G may have been more fair overall, but it was obtuse, complicated, and we therefore voted against it. RRFPD has worked hard to address these issues with the current tax proposal -- which comes up for a vote in June. It's clear, simple, fair, and relatively affordable.

RRFPD needs the money, or they'll have to lay off key personnel and cut services. The money flat-out isn't there. So it's up to us to ensure that it is, for the sake of our ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our businesses, and our visitors. It basically amounts to $15 per month. I know that's a lot for many of us, including me. But if you think of it as a form of insurance (which it basically is), we have little choice but to bite the bullet and pay.

PS -- RRFPD really DOES need to replace their ambulance. They approached RRROC for funding -- from the tax revenues which have been diverted from them, for pete's sake -- with a strong and well-supported proposal. County officials responded that funding would be unlikely because -- apparently -- a replaced or refurbished ambulance does not meet requirements for redevelopment funding. This is blatantly untrue. Apparently the County only funds what it wants to fund. Like ... um ... affordable housing?

Monday, February 8, 2010

BIG Rio Nido Meeting: Judd not lest ye be judded, part 2

Actually, the subtitle should be "Judd not lest ye be judded, part 4" because our fourth meeting in as many months is coming up (see previous post). However, River Rattina has been too busy avoiding phone calls from bill collectors while sitting on her porch with a shotgun "jes' in case them danged bankers come round agin" to write up the last two meetings.

The second meeting was held on December 12th 2pm inside the Rio Nido Lodge. And Lo and Behold! The first sight which greeted us as we approached the former hotel lobby was the huge gleaming edifice of a relic from glory days past ... the beautiful, antique, redwood bar which had been stolen from the Rio Nido Lodgea few weeks before! And was found and reported to the Sheriff by an observant neighbor -- in some crankster's pickup truck hack-sawed into three jagged pieces. This was a supreme vindication for Brad Metzger, owner of the Rio Nido Roadhouse, who had been implicated by some bizarre rumor.

The bar had been carefully restored by skillful hands and stood stolidly as though it had never been removed. As JRR Tolkein's hero, Aragorn, declared about the once-broken sword of Isildur, "It has been remade." More brownie points for new Rio Nido Lodge owner Dennis Judd, who now looks like the judicious custodian of this precious artifact from Rio Nido's history. Which basically comes down to ... a bar? Um, let's not go there. *Hic*

Chaired by newly elected RRROC member and long-time Rio Nido resident, Chris Auszten, the meeting was attended by over 50 people, including Mr. Metzger from the Rio Nido Roadhouse (which currently serves as our beloved neighborhood hangout, restaurant, bar, music venue, community center, pool, etc.), Mr. Judd, his representative Steve Radjelic, Doug Meisner and others from the Rio Nido Home Owners' Association, 5th District Supervisor Efren Carillo, Mark Krug from the County Development Commission, Tom Lynch from RRROC & the Zoning Board, Sergeant Kevin Young from the Sheriff's Department, Vesta Copestakes from the West County Gazette, Amber Twitchell RRROC member elect and Economic Recovery Director for California Human Services, Karen Kopp from the Guerneville 5&10, Joe Feladjic from GoLocal Coop, local blogger Steve Gladfelter, and many others.

Rio Nido resident Rebecca Ford kept things on track with her calm, professional demeanor, along with a timer to keep things moving at a reasonable pace so we could leave before midnight. Elena Chronis was kept busy furiously jotting down the minutes. Local resident and writer Justin Raimondo and others served as the obligatory anti-development hecklers until others urged them to pipe down and listen to what The-Powers-That-Be have to say. Domenic Farnocchia, the unofficial but de-facto Mayor of Rio Nido was, alas, nowhwere to be found.

Mr. Raimondo squeezed in one last expression of his suspicions regarding Mr. Judd's motivations, only to have Mr. Auszton lose his temper and thunder out, "THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!" Dang! So much for any political prospects he may have enjoyed beyond RRROC. Such a shame, he ran such a good campaign. Thankfully, the One Who Has Innumerable Political Prospects, Efren Carrillo, later gently chided, "Actually, this IS a democracy."

Mr. Judd once again reiterated that he has no specific plans for the Rio Nido Lodge property (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), wants to hear what we folks from the community have to say (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), believes we should unite as a community (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), and wants to work with us towards common goals (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising).

As you may have guessed, I do believe that Mr. Judd sincerely wants to work with us towards creating something totally fabulous in keeping with our fabled history, but I also believe that the County's objectives combined with our arcane zoning codes and permit requirements/procedures will make it absolutely impossible for any property owner to make money -- or just break even -- unless they build "affordable housing". Personally, I would love to see more affordable housing in combination with mixed commercial use so we can also have a grocery store, laundromat, coffee shop, theater, the restoration of our once fabulous beach, a dock for boats, a bait & tackle shop, & other amenities. Orrin Theissen ... where ARE you?!

Numerous ideas were exchanged. The energy was amazing. Representatives from our distinguished theater group, Pegasus, expressed hope in finding a new home here. Ms. Twitchell energetically stated the need to use available funds towards creating jobs so people can afford to live here and urged us to "Please think beyond this moment towards what's sustainable." Mr. Feladjic from GoLocal offered "a helping hand" to local businesses ... which currently consists of the Rio Nido Road House & whatever Mr. Judd winds up doing. Rio Nido resident Jennifer Ostrom distributed a handout on potential uses for the space and things we can do towards the beautification of Rio Nido. Mr. Meisner said that running the Rio Nido Homeowners' Association is "like herding cats."

In the end, a sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in forming a Rio Nido Task Force, and a meeting was set up for January at the Rio Nido Fire Station.

JANUARY 9, 2010 MEETING -- Apparently, Rio Nido was QUITE the happening place back in December. The following meeting on January 9 was well-attended with about 25 neighbors present, but not nearly as crowded and contentious and vibrant as the previous one. Mr. Auszten was facilitating the meeting until ... suddenly, he didn't want to any more. I don't get it ... we ornery, obnoxious, & digressive Rio Nido folks seemed to be on our best behavior that day. Dang, we DO seem to chew through so many of those poor meeting facilitators. Luckily, local resident and business consultant Kim Holliday stepped in and orchestrated some key agreements on what we should focus on: Safety/security, beautification, infrastructure, business development, and internal stuff (how we're organized, how we make decisions, how we work together).

So now these five major items are slated for the upcoming meeting agenda. The meeting is scheduled for Saturday February 13th, 10am, at the Rio Nido Road House. With all the opening and closing stuff, we have 12 agenda items. That means 5 minutes per agenda item. That means we'll need to split off into committees so we can have more detailed discussions & start accomplishing things. Please come, and please also WISH US LUCK!

Rio Nido Meeting, Sat. Feb. 13th, 10am-11am, Rio Nido Road House

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13th, 10am-11am

Flavorful, eye-opening coffee will be served
. This meeting is open to the public. All who care about Rio Nido and its future are welcome. Thank you Brad Metzger & the Rio Nido Road House crew for hosting this meeting.

We've made amazing progress since we all first gathered together in early December 2009. Over 50 neighbors have attended the past two monthly meetings, discussed what we love about Rio Nido, & established priorities for issues we want to address moving forward. These priorities include:
  1. Safety & security concerns, including speeding (both kinds);
  2. Infrastructure issues, including roads & emergency preparedness;
  3. Neighborhood beautification, including community clean-ups; and,
  4. Economic viability -- what businesses we'd like to see in Rio Nido & how we can support & enable local businesses to succeed.
The Rio Nido Task Force is an informal group of local residents, business owners, and other stake holders who wish to improve the quality of life in Rio Nido.